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New fire prevention policy seeks to preserve sage grouse habitat

Owyhee County, ID

The Murphy complex wildfire, which burned about 600,000 acres of rangeland in southern Idaho and Nevada, is serving as a key catalyst in shaping western fire policy. In terms of size, the Murphy complex fire ranks among the top 5 in the nation in recent history.

After touring the Murphy fire zone recently, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was inspired to develop a new fire-fighting strategy to prevent more large wildfires in the Great Basin.

"We went out on China Mountain and looked out over Browns Bench at some pretty incredible sagebrush habitat and looked out over the devastation of the Murphy fire," Jewell said. "A picture is worth a thousand words. Being there is worth even more. You understand what's at stake."

Jewell wants to protect the best remaining sagebrush-steppe habitat for the greater sage grouse, a candidate for listing as an endangered species.

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